Let’s get clear on a few things. One value of ideology (to the ideologue) is in defense of an indefensible argument. If you think something that can’t be proven, that’s Ideology. Another view might be as a point of view that is strictly in opposition to something.
Climate deniers, as an example, are the best at being ideologues. They laugh in the face of evidence, cherry picking their own version of truth. Blinded by ideology, they are great at not seeing science that disagrees with their beliefs. They have their own facts – sometimes divinely granted to them and only them. But it is in their name, specifically “Deniers” that we make the greatest connection to ideology. Ideology is about opposition and inversion.
Atheism (in its best form, not its popular form), is not about opposition to a god. How can you be opposed to something you don’t believe in? Therefore, good atheism is not an ideological point of view. Satanism, on the other hand is a strong ideology in that is stands in opposition to (a) God. And vice versa. In this way, most ideology is based in fear of a thing over another – capitalism over socialism for one political reference.
But let’s leave politics aside for now and tango with religion some more. What Climate Deniers fear is similar to what Christians fear – a word that is not “made for us” as Eugene Thacker called is in In the Dust of This Planet.
Playing with this, James Inhofe and his ilk see the world via a capitalist lens as a “world as a tool” – that is a world that has been provided for us to consume. (Back, briefly to politics only as a mechanism to recall this Inhofe quote about the world’s scientists “resembl(ing) a Soviet-style trial, in which the facts are predetermined, and ideological purity trumps technical and scientific rigor.” Pot, i’d like to introduce you to something). The view of “world for us” is not not entirely different, I should note, from the environmentalist’s perspective of “world as finite resource” – the only difference is the quantity of and speed of consumption of the resource – is it infinite or finite? Forget why the earth is here (divinely granted or randomly generated), the real argument is how much is left and at what rate are we consuming it. For many deniers, it is depleting very slowly, for the rest of us more quickly. It is an order of magnitude issue, nothing more.
But of course there is more to it. That more will crack the very foundation of a personal ideology. For Inhofe, to grant that the world is in fact a finite resource that we are capable of depleting is the same as admitting that it was not created “for us” in the first place.
The World, rational scientists must know, is no more “made for us” (Climate Deniers) than we can be “on the side of” nature (Environmentalist). Back to Thacker – there are three ways to look at our rock. World = World For Us; Earth = World In Itself; and Planet = World Without Us. You’re ideology places you in one of these worlds.
The World In Itself is perhaps the most frightening, a world that does not know or care of our existence (that’s scarier than a world without us). Or, perhaps most detrimental to Inhofe, a world indifferent to us. A world like some macabre Shel Silverstein friend-tree-lover that doesn’t give of itself masochistically, but doesn’t care if it is slowly disassembled into consumables. That is the saddest world, and it is where we live in my view. This doesn’t mean that we don’t try to prolong it, it just means that it doesn’t owe us anything in return….tearful Native American or not.
This approach sticks a middle finger in the face of many sustainability mythologies of what I call imaginary perfect pastoral pasts. These are the marketing images that leverage the past as a simpler time where all cows were smiling on a hill and we (humankind) got along swimmingly with nature. We had respect for her, we did not abuse her, we loved her, we wept for her along America’s highways. This time exists only in the mind of an Art Director and storyteller. There is no pastoral past – it’s always been a complicated and antagonistic relationship. Rather, it has always been a one-sided argument, and Mother nature doesn’t give a shit.